11. Create a “just say no” notebook. Overextending yourself, especially to do tasks you don’t really enjoy, stalls out your energy engines. If you don’t want to bake for another bake sale or help that friend with a home improvement project, say so. Need an excuse? Keep some in a notebook. Include legitimate reasons—you’re reserving time for your daily walks, for instance.
12. List all the people you’re angry with and write each a letter of forgiveness. Stewing over past events only drains your energy. “Try to accept others for who they are and don’t expend a lot of effort on changing them,” says Dr. Wilson. Oh, and you don’t have to send the letter. Simply writing it is enough.
13. Soak up a little sun in winter. Have all the energy of a hibernating bear in the winter? Make a point of getting outside for 30 minutes to an hour during the day. The natural light can improve your energy level and help fight seasonal affective disorder—also known as the winter blahs.
14. In the hour before bedtime, turn off the TV, put away your work, and relax with a good book, some needlepoint, or a crossword puzzle. Take a warm bath and listen to soothing music. This ritual will help you fall asleep more quickly and experience a more restful slumber, resulting in more energy the following day.
15. Turn off CNN for one week. Depressing television news of murders, fires, and terrorism can quickly drain your mental reserves. If you’re a news junkie, try this experiment for one week: Stop reading your newspaper and watch only one television news program a day (or none if you can stand it). Notice how you feel at the end of the week. If you feel more energetic and peaceful, stick to your new habit.
16. Create a mail-sorting center. Clutter is not only distracting, it’s frustrating and energy-wasting. (How many times have you scoured the house for lost keys or bills that were right in front of you?) To keep track of your bills and other mail, buy an open file box or hanging files from an office supply store. Place it in your kitchen and use it to sort your mail into categories such as “bills,” “receipts,” and “letters.” “When you know where your bills are, you can pay them on time, thus reducing frustration and stress,” says Audrey Thomas, an organizational consultant and author of The Road Called Chaos.
17. Breathe in new energy. Sit in a chair with a straight back. Place your hands over your stomach and breathe into your tummy so that your hands rise and fall with your breath. Imagine you are inhaling a white light that fills your body with vital energy. Do this for five full breaths. Then, as you inhale, tighten the muscles that connect your shoulders and neck, pulling your shoulders up toward your ears. “When you have inhaled all you can and your shoulders are snug around your ears, hold your breath for just a second,” says Karl D. La Rowe, a licensed clinical social worker and mental health investigator in Oregon. “Then exhale as you release the tension and your breath in one big whoosh — as if you were releasing the weight of the world from your shoulders. Repeat until you feel clear, refreshed, and revitalized.”
18. Make a list of everything you’re looking forward to in the next month. Do this every month when you pay your rent or mortgage. Simply building more anticipation into your life helps stoke your energy.